Today Solar United Neighbors, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Earthjustice filled a motion for summary judgement regarding their lawsuit against Jacksonville’s municipal utility, JEA. The organizations filed suit last year after the utility stopped providing net metering to customers that chose to install solar panels on their homes. Plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that JEA’s decision violates Florida law. An affirmative ruling should compel JEA to comply with Florida law and again offer net metering to customers.
Net metering is the method utilities like JEA use to credit solar owners for the excess electricity their systems generate. When solar systems produce more energy than a home needs, the excess electricity is sent back through the customer’s electric meter where it is then used by neighbors. Under net metering, the solar homeowner receives a credit for that electricity. Florida law provides that solar customers be able to offset their energy consumption from the grid by lowering their bill by the exact amount of energy they produce.
“Jacksonville homeowners are eager to go solar, but they need a fair net metering policy to do so,” said Angela DeMonbreun, Solar United Neighbors of Florida Program Director. “JEA’s new policy severely limits who can benefit from going solar.”
Solar supporters are hopeful today’s filing will expedite the legal process and get Jacksonville homeowners going solar again.
“Jacksonville is giving solar customers serious shade,” said Earthjustice attorney Bonnie Malloy. “The utility wants to give families next to nothing for the solar power they produce while selling that same electricity to their neighbors for three times as much.”
JEA’s flawed policy significantly reduces the value of rooftop solar and roughly doubles the amount of time a solar customer can recoup the cost of their investment – from 10 years to 20 years. Last year, JEA implemented a policy that credits net metered customers at just 3.25 cents per kilowatt-hour. The utility then charges the neighbors that use this electricity at 10.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Rooftop solar energy also benefits non-solar customers. Rooftop solar energy is generated close to the source of demand and during the day when electricity demand is highest. This reduces the need for the construction of additional transmission lines and generation capacity, saving all customers from having to pay more for these upgrades.